This past week, i traveled down to Bogota, Colombia to visit and travel with my good bud Brandon Thiessen from Olam and met up with Mr. Tyler Youngblood from Azahar coffee. For me, this is first visit to this amazing country. Upon arriving, i instantly fell in love with the people, the colors and sounds of this country. Colombia worldwide is know as the third largest exporter of coffee in the world and with an exceptional amount of quality coffees that can vastly differ in profile from region to region. In my visit, i traveled first to Armenia to cup at Azahar's cupping lab and met up with Azahar's founder, Tyler Youngblood & his Director of Quality Control, Jayson Galvis and ran through several tables of Microlots selected exclusively for us to cup.
On the table, we cupped coffees from Nariño, Huila & Tolima regions among others, all with their own unique flavor profiles but at the same time, all yielding very clean and fruit forward flavors. After several tables and hundreds of cups later, i narrowed down the selection to three fantastic microlots from Nariño:
Farm: La Esperanza
Altitude :2200 MASL
Altitude: 2200 MASL
Farm: El Guiaco
Altitude: 1850 MASL
Farm: El Cucho
Altitude: 1,850 MASL
These 3 producers mark our very first relationship coffees through our new friends and origin partners in Colombia Azahar Coffee. We are exited to begin these new relationships here in Chicago and our hope is to develop these relationships that will sustain for years to come. Tasting coffees, specifically these Narino microltos, i am encouraged by the quality, consistency of work and dedication to producing some of the cleanest, most balanced coffees i've tasted from this part of the world.
In particular, tasting Nelson Chavez's La Esperanza micolot from Yanquanquer, which was my personal bell ringer, inspired me to coin the term "Afri-lombia" because of its clean, lively, africanesque flavors while still maintaining it's own unique character. Mr. Chavez's farm, while beautiful, was extremely steep and a tough mother to climb. Seeing Nelson climb as if he was taking a stroll in the park inspired me to bill "El Spiderman" or more aptly "El Hombre Arana".
Pictured above L to R: Sara Velasquez @azaharcoffee, Brandon Thiessen @olamspecialty, Laure Perry @49th parallel Josh Hockin @transcendcoffee
While sitting at the top of La Esperanza, a little rain came down on the group which was extremely refreshing for having to profusely sweat out 6 gallons of water on our way up. There, the group got to touch base with Mr. Chavez and connect with him on a personal level which was both rewarding and an honor for me. Meeting producers on the farm level is not only an important part of the supply chain but also a way to communicate back to the producers on the coffees performance which in turn allows them to receive the necessary information to continue the best coffee processing husbandry.
Lastly, i want to thank my good friend Brandon Thiessen for asking me to tag along & Tyler Youngblood for being such a great host or this visit and going above and beyond to sharing his lab, time and knowledge.